The Thought Process of Someone Addicted
It is impossible to know the exact thought process of those struggling with addiction. However, addiction absolutely leads to some common patterns of thought, many of which keep the self-destructive cycle of addiction perpetually moving. It is important to identify and debunk addictive thought processes in order to help those struggling with addiction get the help and treatment they need.
Obsessive Thoughts About the Pleasure of Addictive Substances
One of the most apparent aspects about the thought process of addiction is how obsessive it can be. Individuals who are struggling with addiction have a hard time focusing on anything but their driving need to have more of their preferred addictive substance. This can become obsessive, causing everything else in life to become less important.
For example, a parent who is addicted to prescription painkillers certainly loves his or her children. After missing a dose, however, even a normally devoted parent will obsess about how to acquire the next fix. Everything, including children, family and finances, will pale in comparison to the need to feed the painkiller addiction.
This obsessive thinking projects all pleasure onto the addictive substance. Individuals won’t believe that anything can deliver pleasure or happiness as well as their drug of choice.
Excessive Thoughts About the Pain of Quitting
Individuals who are struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol might believe that pain is intensified when these substances disappear. This incorrect but intense line of thinking that often accompanies addiction is one reason why so many individuals ultimately decide not to seek help. While treatment and therapy could restore new forms of pleasure and reduce the pain in life, this line of thinking simply isn’t compatible with the inherent nature of addiction. As a result, those with the skewed perception of addictive thinking will equate a missed dose or the prospect of sobriety as painful. This is intensified by the reality of withdrawal symptoms, which can appear just hours after last use.
Externalizing Problems and Victimization of Self
A key component of addictive thinking patterns is the idea of externalizing problems. It is very common for those dealing with addiction to think that the problems in life should be blamed on others. For instance, people may say that they use drugs because they had a rough childhood. They may even claim that they rely on alcohol because of financial stress, ignoring the fact that alcohol addictions only add to the financial burden.
In conjunction with externalizing of problems is the creation of self as the victim. Addicts typically believe that they are always in the right — that others are harming them or taking advantage of their good nature. This abdication of responsibility keeps the illness of addiction strong, because it justifies the use drugs and alcohol. If individuals understood that they hold the future in their own hands, they would no longer have a good excuse to continue their patterns of addiction.
Addictive Thinking Emphasizes Impatience and Instant Gratification
One of the most childlike aspects of addiction thought processes is impatience. Many individuals dealing with the disease of addiction can’t process anything beyond instant gratification. This is, essentially, how addiction works. Consumption of the addictive substance causes euphoria or a high almost immediately, but the feelings can subside just as quickly.
This instant gratification leads to poor impulse control and a lack of understanding about planning for the future or consequences of actions. This addictive line of thinking is what leads normally law-abiding people to steal from cash registers or family members in order to buy drugs. It is what leads parents to make bad decisions about their families and their children in order to experience their next high. It can also be why many individuals struggling with addiction don’t want to seek help, because the long-term nature of recovery is an intimidating prospect.
Addictive Thought Process Focuses on Uniqueness and Nonconformity
In the same vein as externalizing problems is the aspect of addiction thought process that emphasizes personalize uniqueness. There is no reason to take issue with the idea of each individual being unique. After all, it is certainly true! However, the problem exists when individuals struggling with addiction believe that only they struggle with addiction because of a unique trait, struggle or characteristic that no one else could possibly understand.
People dealing with addiction often feel excluded from mainstream society. This might be because of the addiction or behavior. But personal exclusion can also be a pre-existing condition, that may have led to the addiction in the first place. Tackling addiction directly may make it easier to integrate seamlessly back into society and still retain personal uniqueness.
It should be noted that often these feelings are a direct result of mental health disorders. Mental health and addiction can be tackled together through dual diagnosis treatment in an effort to improve the overall health and wellbeing of patients.
Irrational Thinking Can’t be Processed With a Logical, Rational Point of View
While there are clearly some common thought processes that relate to addiction, no two individuals struggling with addiction will have the same patterns of thinking. It is important for loved ones to understand that it is not possible to logically or rationally argue or convince an addict of anything. Instead, understand that addiction is an illness, and only through treatment can cognitive function be completely restored.
One of the most damaging aspects of addiction is the associated pattern of thinking. Thankfully, these thought processes are not permanent, and suitable addiction treatment and rehab can improve cognitive function, mental agility and rational thinking.